The largest ethnic population in the Winslow Unified School District is often the most overlooked. Native American students account for about 50 percent of the student body.
Last week, the five Winslow schools recognized the Native American culture with various events culminating in a large celebration on Friday.
October 8 was Native American Day in Winslow. The day was a celebration of native art, music and dress highlighted by a party in the Bashas’ parking lot. Vendors and artisans sold their handmade wares in the lot while the three-man band, Rocky Park, sang traditional songs and played the drum.
The day was also the annual Miss Winslow Native American pageant. Two high school girls dressed in their tribe’s traditional clothes and were interviewed to test their knowledge of their culture. They also displayed a skill during the Talent Show.
Dorothia Nez, 17, won the crown after displaying how to properly wrap a baby in a cradleboard. She used her nephew, Rhondale, who dozed off after he was secured in the blanket.
“I’m happy and excited to represent Winslow,” she said.
Jessica James finished second. She played “America the Beautiful” on her violin.
The schools observed different theme days throughout the week. Monday was Bun and Braid Day, Tuesday was Jewelry Day, Wednesday was Cowboy or Cowgirl Day, Thursday was Moccasin and Boot Day and Friday was Full Traditional Dress Day.
The elementary schools hosted local Indian artisans who showed the students what it’s like growing up Hopi or Navajo.
Joseph Stacey explained the traditional types of toys Hopi children play with. Colby Numkena read several examples of Navajo, Hopi and Mexican children’s stories. He also demonstrated basket weaving. Alvin Taylor demonstrated how to make silver overlay jewelry.
The events are sponsored by the Winslow Native American Parenting Advisory Committee, the high school Tribe of Many Feathers and the Office of Indian Education.
Bonnie Brennan hosted Native American student dancers representing Navajo, Hopi and plains tribes wearing traditional dress on Friday.
The plains Indians demonstrated a powwow dance while wearing elaborate colorful attire. The Navajo dancers and dances are much more subdued compared to the powwow. Hopi clothes and dances are somewhere in between the others. Every dancer’s garments are customized to his or her family and tribe.
Students from kindergarten to high school practiced for three weeks to prepare for the event. In some families, children begin learning the dances almost as soon as they can walk.
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